Many of us, for so many reasons (educational culture, social pressures, etc.), have a hard time focusing on the process of our performances, instead focusing our entire attention only on the goal. In the Alexander Technique we call this phenomenon “end gaining”.
It is as if you as an actor, didn’t understand that your expectation to do a good job (or to be approved by other people) takes you out of the present moment.
It is because of your belief system, you cannot focus on the process.
You go to an audition, for example, and you would love to get the part. Even though you are very well prepared, you are still worrying about the result. Your main thoughts might be something like: “I don’t have a chance”, “There are so many people to compete with” or “Maybe they are better or better prepared than I am.”
Whatever you are thinking (e.g., strong judgmental habits) very often might be unhelpful for your purpose.
Because our social system rewards us when we do a good job and punishes us when we fail or make mistakes, we tend to start all processes in a state of fear. We are so conditioned to do this that our ability to learn (the only way we have a chance to do a good job) diminishes a great deal.
The first step to counter this is to understand that the goal or the result is only a wish, a desire that all will be fine, and that the only thing that you can control is the process. In fact only when you are present and enjoying the process (In the Alexander Technique we call this phenomenon “The Means Whereby”), are you really fully alive.
To be able to focus on the process you need to create strategies that bring you back to it.
Here are some suggestions to help you to become aware of your process and organize it more effectively:
1. Commit to creating a plan and follow it. Put it down in writing in order to understand the way you are going to implement the process of your project.
2. Commit to defining and utilizing a set of warm up activities (e.g., Yoga, exercises, etc.) for your everyday health and to put you in shape to learn discipline.
3. Commit to meditation and/or contemplative practices, in order to reset and clear your mind. Demystify the process of pausing, for one minute to 20 minutes, to reexamine your thinking.
It is very important to keep in mind that all strategies and commitments need to be addressed in the moment, and it is better to see the big picture, or the average, instead of being strict with every specific detail. Think about the things that you would like to do everyday, then the things that you would like do 5 days a week, and so on.
For example, if you didn’t exercise one day for some reason, don’t be upset about it. Just commit to do it the next day and so on. Average is possible and perfection or forcing yourself to do things doesn’t work. Think about the benefit and the joy that you have from taking care of yourself.
It is all about understanding and learning with your habitual tendencies, and re-training the unconscious 70% of the mind by using the 5% conscious mind.
In my next posts, I’ll offer more tips and suggestions to help you to become more conscious and joyful in all activities of life.